Foodie Friday: My Sourdough Starter Exerience!

Sometimes I get an urge to do something, and I’m adamant about doing it. I’ve been wanting to make sourdough bread for a while, but always thought making the starter was too much work. About a month ago, I decided it was time and I embarked on my sourdough starter journey.

Basically, sourdough starter is is yeast! Wild yeast! And it gives your bread that distinct flavor. Your sourdough will taste different depending on where you live, because wild yeast is different everywhere! It’s pretty cool.

I started with this recipe. I measured everything with a scale and was diligent with my starter. After a few days it started smelling like sourdough bread, and that was exciting! But it wasn’t getting to where it should be, I figured it was lagging because of where I live and kept on trucking. After the full week, it still wasn’t where I wanted it to be, it was getting bubbly but not doubling in volume. I decided to keep up with daily feedings for another week, but it still wasn’t doubling or floating when I did a float test. It smelled sour and looked normal so I knew it was still good, but couldn’t figure out why it was lagging so much. I was tempted to use packaged yeast just so I could make a loaf, but really wanted to try and get my starter to work before I resorted to that.

Up to that point I had been watching any and all sourdough videos on youtube and reading every sourdough blog post I could find. I was at the point where all I could think about in my spare time was sourdough! It was pretty crazy, I needed to stop. But I couldn’t stop until I knew what was wrong with it!

I stumbled on these really good videos on youtube by Northwest Sourdough. She sounded like she knew what she was talking about and I checked out her blog. One thing really stood out to me… she suggested using filtered water. I had been using tap! I switched right away and moved my started to a warmer place and in two days it was not only doubling, but also floating!

I had originally kept my starter on top of the fridge as suggested in the recipe I followed, but then decided to move it. I didn’t realize how much warmer it was on top of the fridge, so that made a big difference. I’m not sure what did the trick: the water, warmer spot or both, but I’m glad it did.

Now I keep my starter in the fridge and feed it once a week. I was worried about my first out-of-fridge feeding, but it doubled nicely after feeding and leaving it out for a few hours.

I did my first bake after two weeks (it was actually two bakes). My first loaf came out like a pancake because I totally overworked it. I also cooked it in my dutch oven, which I did not like at all. It picked up a lot of flavor from the dutch oven. My second loaf came out better but still a little flat. I got scared and didn’t do enough shaping. I baked my second loaf on a pizza stone and I liked that much better. It actually tasted really good, and looked like a real sourdough!

I made my bread with AP flour, which makes a very sticky dough (I used the recipe from this video series). It stuck to everything, especially during proofing. I decided to get a banneton (proofing basket), which will hopefully help with the sticking problems I had. We will see!

Have you ever made your own sourdough? Any tips for me?